Plzeňské sympozia

Zdeněk R. Nešpor

The Light of Sociology above the Czech Basin

pp. 28–34 (Czech), Summary pp. 34-35 (English)

Th?e article examines and critically evaluates the first appearance of sociology on the

Czech stage, in the academic milieu and in intellectual and public discussions. It notes

that this appearance came relatively early and was relatively widespread, in circumstances

that were quite exceptional for a small European nation: from the 1870s and

1880s onwards an intellectual tradition began to take shape that was rich, institutionally

well-rooted, and unique in terms of the quantity of works produced and the

reaction of society. Whether its orientation was more theoretical or aimed towards

social reform, it became an integral part of the public space. Its standard attributes

were considered to be progressiveness, a scientific approach, and social sensitivity.

Its shadow side consisted in the fact that for a long time no precise delimitation

of sociology from a theoretical and methodological viewpoint took place; it served

mainly as a publicity label covering various types of reflection on society and/or

attempts to direct and reform it. ?roughout all this, early Czech sociology remained


primarily an academic discipline, and the real international or historical response to it, manifested in a genuine knowledge and application of its results, was not very substantial,

either. ?e light that Czech sociology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

longed to bring to Czech society enlightened primarily Czech sociology itself and its

protagonists – it did not harm society, but nor did it help it very much.

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